(Images by Alexandra Smith, all rights reserved)
This enchanting pillared staircase can be found at High Ireby in the historic county of Cumberland. The wide stone steps once led to a grand three-storey mansion called Ireby Grange, which was the real ‘Fortress’ in Hugh Walpole’s third book of the Herries Chronicles. The Grange estate boasts a spectacular view of the Lake District fells and, apart from the muted workings of a neighbouring farm, the site is serenely quiet.
The Grange was owned by the Grainger family during the early 1800s and sold to John Boustead in 1870 before coming into the possession of the Gurneys, who allegedly still own the land today. Tragically, the house burnt down in January 1957. As the Grange was only occupied for several weeks each year, the fire went unnoticed until the roof set alight.
All 52 rooms were destroyed and Ireby Grange was left in a sorry state until most of its stone remains were removed (probably to fill nearby mine shafts). Aside from the steps and broken foundations, parts of a balcony banister are all that appear to have survived.
The thick, high wall and grand gateposts suggest the magnitude and quality of the building that once stood within. Water seems to have played a key role in the landscaping of the grounds, with small waterfalls and a peaceful pond to the front of the property. There’s also a functioning stone water trough on the perimeter and an arch (dated 1855) sits over a beck running out at the far end of the front wall.
A full exploration of the ruin was forbidden, alarmingly because this private property was allegedly being used for shooting – which is apt due to the fact that the next village is Ruthwaite, home to the famous nineteenth century huntsman John Peel of the song ‘D’ye ken John Peel…?’ Meanwhile, several abandoned kilns, which may have been used to produce lime for agricultural purposes, lie further along the road from the Grange.
Keep reading – explore 20 More Abandoned Mansions of the World.